This is Carolina: ‘A hand up, not a hand out;’ reformed ex-biker creates 17-acre haven for recovery

TIC: Free Ministry Green Sea

GREEN SEA, S.C. (WMBF) - An ex-biker club member is taking people off the streets of Horry County for a better life.

At his 17-acre oasis, Jimbo Boudreau gets homeless people and addicts away from the distractions of street life and into recovery.

He hopes to change their lives with love. The operation is called Free Ministry.

The faith-based operation started in 2009 in Green Sea when a friend of Boudreau’s gifted him the land on Church Road for the greater cause of helping others.

Boudreau has turned it into a haven for people to break the cycles of addiction and homelessness. It’s not glamorous, but his tough love approach is making a difference.

“We’re not just giving them a hand out, like I was saying, off the streets for a day or two. We’re offering them a trade. We teach them welding fabrication, we teach them how to build homes, we teach these guys to save their money. We teach them to keep their room clean. We have to quit giving hand outs, we have to give someone a hand up,” Boudreau said.

Seventeen people are living on his property in different homes across the property. They’re up daily at 6 a.m., participate in Bible study at 7 a.m., learn trades, tend the garden and work.

Boudreau said he runs a tight ship, and there’s a zero tolerance policy when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

“We teach them to be men and to be active members of society, putting them back into society, given that when they were coming here they were very self-centered, very addicted,” he said.

Boudreau described Free Ministry as a “come as you are” type of place and they will get the help needed for that person.

He said community members help out when it comes to dental and healthcare for people seeking a better life.

“I’m trying to fill in the cracks of people who fall in the cracks when they don’t qualify for this so that,” he said, looking around his property.

Currently, Free Ministry has two homes ready to house about 16 people that can’t be opened because he needs septic tanks for both. He’s hoping that can be taken care of soon.

“Getting to the next level has been very difficult. These homes back here, with some septic tanks and footer blocks we would be able to have 16 more people,” he said.

He hopes to raise awareness of the Church Road facility to gain more support and volunteers for the cause to get what he needs to help more people who need it.

Boudreau said he finds many of the people in his recovery program from the streets of Myrtle Beach and some are referred to him through the court system. He said people of all backgrounds and professions have found help at his ministry.

“I’ve seen people that come from larger corporations and families with money, and I say that I don’t want your family’s money to bring them here. I want them to come here and work their own way. And they do have to work. They’ve got to come here and be able to support themselves, we teach them to support themselves so they don’t go back into society the way they left it. Be an asset instead of a pain,” Boudreau explained.

He understands because he said he’s been in a low place himself.

“What inspired me was the fact that I was at one time myself homeless. In Myrtle Beach, on October 5, of 2003, I was walking the streets of Myrtle Beach living at the Krispy Kreme dumpster on 6th Avenue North with a two-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter. Completely consumed with homelessness, alcohol and drug addiction,” Boudreau said.

He explained this was after he was kicked out of his biker club for his addictions. After about six months without a home, a woman came up to him and talked with him about Jesus. He said that changed everything for him, and he found his way back on his feet.

“I was taught love by other people showing me love. And so I have a compassion about rescuing the lost people of places I’ve been. It’s the most rewarding job that you could ever imagine.”

Boudreau will tell you about the people he’s helped with a tear in his eye. One of his most recent success stories is about a young man named Hunter.

“Hunter was my last one I got to take home. I drove him six hours home. When I got there the whole family, his mom, his dad, his grandmother, his grandfather, they were on the porch waiting for him and they were all so proud of him," he said.

Boudreau has been through a lot, and has the bullet and stab wounds to show for it. However, he credits his hardships for helping him find a greater purpose.

“Most people just want to be wanted. They want to be part of something. So again, if I had to go to jail to get to where I’m at now, I mean everything that I’ve had to go through to get here, it was well worth it. To be able to do what I’m doing now, and I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I’d had the compassion to do all this if I had gone through that. Would I? I don’t know, I don’t think I would."

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